"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Albion -- Restaurant review

Albion's extensive wines

Address: 80 rue du faubourg poissonière, 75010
Nearest transport: Métro Poissonière (ligne 7)
Hours: Open lunch/dinner Tuesday-Friday

           Saturday dinner only
Reservations: recommended
Telephone: 01 42 46 02 44

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; 1-Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; €€€€ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on minimum 2-courses)

1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4 - Stars............................................. (a la carte)............................................2 - Bell

At the suggestion of a good friend, we went to Albion in the 10eme.  Hayden Clout and Matt Ong are both graduates of the “Fish la Boissonnerie,” a restaurant where I’ve been to a couple of times and have thoroughly enjoyed. .

Nice window frame into the kitchen

My first impression when you walk in, by Parisian standards it is a fairly large restaurant with tall ceilings and big windows along the side that gave it an even larger feel. As you enter there is a large bar to the right and a large wall of different wines along the left side of the walls, which by the way, you can purchase.  And, straight ahead was a short of peek-a-boo large pass-through window where you can see into the kitchen.

It was a cold day in Paris, and we got a table in the middle front of the restaurant close to the door. Not a bad table, but a bit on the drafty side.  We asked Hayden if we could switch tables as soon as one became available.  He accommodated our needs as one became available. .

Hayden is very, very nice and affable. Turns out he’s from Auckland, New Zealand. I mentioned to him I spent almost a month there, and in fact I have family in Christchurch. We chatted a little bit about the beauty of his country and the recent earthquake. And, then we progressed to a discussion of wines.  It felt like I was talking to a friend who I’ve known for years.

As we perused the menu, I noticed its simplicity.  They had a selection of 3-entrées, 4-plats, 1 cheese plate, and 2 desserts.  The menu changes occasionally.  Since Hayden knows his wines, we left the wine selection to his discretion, pairing it with dishes we ordered. I had a special request though, both had to be white, since although I love red wine, I cannot drink it for health reasons.

What immediately caught my eye was the entrée of “velouté à l'ail, palourdes, huile au curry,” (a creamy garlic soup with cherry neck clams in a curried infused oil).  It’s a personal thing, but I do not like foamy soups, but once I dug in and tasted it, I was in seventh heaven.  The soup was delicious. The chef definitely knew how to take out the acidity of the garlic and made it quite smooth.  I would venture to guess that he slow roasted the garlic first.  The curry infused oil was not shy, you could definitely taste the turmeric.  With our first course, we were served a glass of “Domaine de Villargeau.” It was a great pairing. The wine was a dry wine with enough acidity to balance out our creamy soup.

For our plat, my friend Marie got the “margret et confit de canard, purée de carrottes aux amandes, purée d'herbs,” (duck breast confit with a puree of carrots with almonds and pureed herbs).  Marie said the duck was delicious. At first we thought the pureed greens were spinach, because it was a dark, dark, green color, but it turned out they were herbs.  Not really sure what herbs though since there wasn’t one strong flavor.  Carrots were delicious, but not as warm as the rest of the plate.

I had the “foie de veau poêlé, purée de pommes de terre, sauce citron vert.” (liver pan cooked with mashed potatoes and a green lime sauce).  The liver was delicious, sliced very thinly and cooked perfectly.  The juxtaposition of the potatoes with the citrus was a nice “ying-yang” for the dish.  And, it was topped with a bacon strip, who wouldn't like that? Interestingly enough though, the citron sauce was a deep purple color and had a little cooked down grape size fruit, I’m thinking maybe currants? hence, the purple color, but I forgot to ask.  So, this dish was also a hit.

For our plats, Marie had a red wine “Saint Cosme, Cotes-du-Rhone.” I had a little sip of it and have to say it was a really nice wine. Not too heavy and not too light, so it was a good accompaniment to her duck. I had a white from Rousillon. It was a smooth, “wet” wine, but not sweet. It’s the kind of wine that would be great to drink just because you're thirsty.   

NOTE:  I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, but I prefer dry over sweet and can go from acidic to “wet.”

We opted, since we were quite full, to share the cheese plate. Marie fell in love with the “branston pickles” which we were told was their chutney. I’m sure if they bottled it, Marie would’ve bought a dozen.  The cheeses were good.  What surprised us even more was that one of the cheeses was an “aged-cheddar.”  It just so happened it was my favorite cheese.

In summary: what a great find.  What’s even more shocking is that the restaurant has only been open for 10-weeks.  I asked Hayden how they were able to make it run so smoothly in such a relatively short period. He told us that since he and Matt worked together at “Fish” for the past 10-years, like a marriage they were well tuned and in sync, with running the “front of the house, and the kitchen.”

Our bill for 2-entrées, 2-plats, and 1-shared cheese plate, with 2-glasses each of great wine came to 40€ each. Before we left, we purchased some of the wines we drank. 

Chapeau to Hayden and Matt.  They don't have a "big" choice menu, I would have liked maybe a few more choices, but what they do have is executed well.  I would highly recommend this restaurant, in fact we’re going back next week and introducing it to some more friends!


  1. You and Marie certainly get around! Thanks for sharing Randy...

  2. You can buy 'Branston Pickle' here in the UK in any supermarket. It's like chutney. The Brits do love their 'pickle' (as opposed to pickles).

  3. Hi Ruby... We can buy Branston Pickle in Paris too.. I have a jar in the fridge actually - but THIS chutney was home made, not dark brown and WOW! Randy's right, I'd have easily bought a few jars if they sold it!

    Am looking forward to returning on Wednesday!